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School Propaganda Counts
Subj: [Mpls] School Propaganda Counts.
Date: 12/7/2001 12:51:13 AM Central Standard Time
In a message dated 12/6/2001 8:35:24 PM Central Standard Time,
> I think that it's really sad when we need to blame parents for the failure
> of the public schools. Have I been deluded, or is education the
> function of the public schools? How many parents are knowledgeable
> in methods of reading and phonics instruction? And why should they
> be? Teachers go to college for five years to learn how to teach. [snip]
I was a Minneapolis public school parent and Mr. Mom to a couple of kids
during the 1980s. Both children were designated as "gifted." I had no
complaints about the quality of education they received. I also put in some
hours as a classroom volunteer at Longfellow Elementary (class size 30).
Household income > 40K / year. Call me Mr. White Privilege.
Back in the good 'ole days (1980s), I was aware that ability-grouping was
being done in grades 3 and up. I didn't like that. I figured that the
non-gifted kids were being shortchanged. But I was blissfully unaware of the
real impact it was having. It didn't motivate me to join the NAACP, carry a
picket sign outside of 807 NE Broadway, or read scads of books related to
When I became a Minneapolis Public School parent again in the 1990s, I
trusted the Minneapolis School System. I expected my child would get roughly
the same quality of education I had come to expect as a parent in the 1980s.
However, I was shocked and outraged by what was being done to my kid and a
lot of his class mates, and I couldn't get the district to put a stop to it.
Call me Mr. White Trash.
One issue was reading instruction. We don't have effective reading
instruction in most of the schoolrooms. It is a fact that we do not. Why is
this so? Could there be a problem with the curriculum and learning strategies
employed in the schoolrooms?
The school board and its apologists on this list respond to every criticism
of the schools, constructive or otherwise, by pointing a finger at those bad
parents. Anyone who says the schools could do a much better job of educating
our kids is a "school basher." Anyone who points out that important
educational resources are not equitably distributed is a "school basher,"
and, of course, an attorney for those bad parents.
And there is the "culture of poverty" theory, which explains the academic
achievement gap between blacks and whites, and between the poor and non-poor
as THE effect of what happens outside of the schools. The distribution of
educational resources, curriculum, ability-grouping and everything else that
the board is responsible for has little or no effect on how the kiddies turn
out, or so the argument goes.
The culture of poverty theory helps the school board justify keeping things
the way they are, in and outside of a courtroom setting. The gist of it was
clearly articulated in a SW Journal column, and again, with considerable
elaboration, in a recent post to this list by the writer of that SW Journal
column. By the way, this isn't personal. It's part of a debate about public
I will close this message with a quote from a book that was published 68
years ago. It is strange how little has changed since then:
"As another has well said, to handicap a student by teaching him that his
black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is
hopeless is the worst sort of lynching. It kills one's aspirations and dooms
him to vagabondage and crime. It is strange, then, that the friends of truth
and the promoters of freedom have not risen up against the present propaganda
in the schools and crushed it. This crusade is much more important than the
anti-lynching movement, because there would be no lynching if it did not
start in the schoolroom. Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class
that everybody is taught to regard as inferior?" (Woodson, Carter, 1933, The
MIS-Education of the Negro, p. 3)
-Doug Mann, Kingfield
Doug Mann for School Board
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